Video: Biggest 3D Manufacturing Machine Builds Jet Fighter Wing Boxes
A large, finished titanium structure built for an aircraft application using Sciaky's direct manufacturing technology that combines an electron beam welding gun with wirefeed additive layering. This method can make parts as large as 19 ft x 4 ft x 4 ft. (Source: Sciaky Inc.)
It's true that this technology is in the process of being commercialized. But I'm not sure where anyone is getting the idea that using very expensive titanium--or the other metals we mentioned that Sciaky uses--to prototype is the only thing this technology is being used for. It's not just being used for prototyping. It's also being used for direct manufacturing. That's another term for actual parts, not prototypes. The wing box is not a prototype: it's an actual part built for Lockheed. More direct-manufactured parts will; be built for the F-35:
This is really interesting. The picture suggests that an original NC program was used (the lines in the pockets are characteristic of first cut NC processes) and if this is the case then being able to manufacture complex parts with large reductions in scrap material puts North America in a very competitive position.
Now all we need is to get the test to destruction data for that part to find out if the layering process provides a consistent interface condition and if THAT is acceptable and matches traditional manufacturing methods and their strength requirements there's no looking back...this is the way to make expensive parts!
Thanks, ScotCan. I was hoping someone who's seen one of these before could say something about what that photo reveals. I'm sure Lockheed knows exactly what they're doing by backing this technology and, in fact, helping to co-develop it. Too bad we're not likely to get the data you mention for obvious reasons.
I am quite impressed at this 3D part of titanium. They were able to copy the machined part even as far as the machining marks. Actually that does make me question the pictures authenticity a bit. BUT it is certainly w great thing to be able to do additive manufacturing with such a high strength material. It may also open up the option of changing the alloy proportions depending on the strength needed in each section of a component such as the wing box. Just putting the maximum strength where it is needed could save weight and money, possibly.
But just the availability of making parts out of high strength materials is quite exciting. It will certainly be interesting to learn about how the various properties compare with cast and forged versions.
It's great to see larger and larger parts being built at increasingly faster rates. If the additive machining community wants a challenge, try making a small pressure vessel and testing it to ASME standards. That may bolster confidence in metallic parts built by this process. Pretty shapes made fast and cheap are one thing. Parts that people can stake their lives on would be the gateway to acceptance.
Am I missing the point here? Machining is still reauired to complete (arguably less), however what is the benefit against a close to form forging that is also getting finished machined and is cuurently commercialised. Do not get me wrong good to know that this can happen but I cannot see its application at the moment, although I need to admit I cannot see the economics of the process yet.
Thanks, RogueMoon, and well said. That's exactly why I report on aircraft usage of 3D printing/AM for actual production parts: this is not hobbyist stuff, not prototypes, and some of us will be flying on it soon.
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